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Two journalists beaten by mob of political militants following articles alleging corruption

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 3 October 2007, Miltón Otero and Julio Daniel Otero, photographer and editor, respectively, of the fortnightly paper "El Observador", were beaten by a mob comprised of supporters of the political coalition Colombia Democrática. The attack was led by former mayor José Bentín Figueroa and the teacher Rafael Figueroa Flórez, and took place when the journalists were taking pictures of the Town Hall as they waited to interview the new mayor. The event took place in the municipality of Chinú, in the department of Córdoba, in northern Colombia.

Milton Otero, whose nose was broken, told IPYS that the attack may have been in response to a series of articles published in "El Observador" about acts of corruption in which the former mayor and his officials were allegedly involved; and the possible political connections of the political coalition with some of the region's paramilitary groups.

The journalists reported the attack to Carlos Barrio, commander of the Chinú police.

Miltón Otero told IPYS that there has been much pressure exerted upon the press since the commencement of the "parapolitical" scandal, in which links between politicians and illegal paramilitary groups were exposed. On 14 September, the photographer was covering a public event by Luis Álvarez Amaríz, a candidate to the mayor's office for Colombia Democrática, when a group of followers seized his digital camera and deleted the pictures. Amaríz had the camera returned the next day and apologized to the journalist.

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